So, I’m Supposed to What?

Oh what a crazy past few months – summer generally is busy, add in a few weddings, some birthday’s, and get togethers; it equates to not enough hours in a day. And with all of the madness going on, we’ve been trying to organize our own life. I go back to work in less than a month. I’m in denial. There’s one line in Beyoncé’s Run the World song that always resonates with me, “Strong enough to bear the children then get back to business.” In theory, yes, this is true. But I’m lost. I have been raising a little human for the past 10 months. In the next month I’m obligated to return to work and trust a complete stranger to care for my child. What?

I’ll just state the obvious by saying that this year flew by. And as if the year wasn’t short enough, I do feel slightly robbed of the first 3 months of my maternity leave. Despite my best efforts of keeping positive, I sometimes feel like I could’ve done better during that recovery time. Better in the sense that I shouldn’t have been so hard on myself and just tried to enjoy every single moment. I remember feeling like a failure at times because I wasn’t able to do more than half the things I wanted to. But as I reflect back, I think we did what needed to do as a family and moved forward. I considered extending my maternity leave to make up for some lost time, but, for us, I don’t feel that would be the best option. As much as I have loved becoming a parent and raising a child, I miss my time. I haven’t glorified parenthood and I try not to because parenting is not a walk in the park. There were days (sometimes weeks) where I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. And it was nothing against Amia. I just missed me. I still miss me. I miss my hot morning coffee, my hot shower, and my fun wardrobe (there’s only so many repeat home clothes you can wear before you realize you should probably do laundry). And as much as it’ll be healthy to return back to work, I’m going to miss my little warrior. Amia has been nothing but the best and watching her grow and blossom into a beautiful soul has been so rewarding; her softness and graceful acts of kindness have made me so proud to be her Ma.

Sometimes I wonder if I did enough during the past year. I took advantage of as many mom and baby activities happening across the city to keep us busy. I did anything and everything, from keeping myself active to keeping Amia stimulated. We also met a lot of other amazing Ma’s and their little ones. Whether it was at a playgroup or salsa dancing, Amia and I made new and fun friends everywhere we went. Sometimes if we had no place to go, I would pack Amia up and just drive. Lots of driving happened. We discovered many little towns and local shops. And if driving wasn’t in our best interest, I would just pack her up in the stroller and go for a nice long stroll. Something I wouldn’t do as often before baby. I saw more of my neighbourhood and realized how nice it is filled with many parks and trails. Our days were mini adventures. Together, we explored and discovered. And the days we were home (because we needed rest days too!), we would play, laugh, and my favourite part, cuddle – lots and lots of cuddles. Those damn cuddles get me – instant heart melt.

I’m really going to miss it all. I’m not sure how I’m expected to rise in my career, take a pause to start a family, and then resume establishing my career while still learning how to raise a child. This transition is going to be very interesting. Let’s be real, it’s going to be ridiculously hard. I also never thought we would find daycare for Amia. Not because of capacity issues at these centres, but because of me. We visited about 6 to 10 different spots, both home and centres. After our last visit, Matt caught on – he told me that no matter how many places we visited, none of them would ever be good enough. It’s true.

Matt and I finally agreed on a place. It’s nice and bonus it’s new. But I’m still trying to process the thought of someone else tending to my child. I know the educators are trained professionals. I need to learn to trust them. But the thoughts always cross my mind (yes the crazy Ma in me comes out): What if Amia is too cold? Too warm? How will she let them know? What if she’s really whiney? What if she’s still hungry after snack time? What if Amia just wants cuddles from Ma? The “what-ifs” are eating at me all the time. But then I try and remember the positives: that this is good for her and her development. Amia will make new friends, interact with new adults, and learn and play in a new environment. Her days will still be filled with adventures, just with different people. So, as much as I’m dreading the first day of daycare, I’m holding my head up and convincing myself that this is all good.

And with that, the next month will be spent making lots of memories; Amia and I plan on making the most of it. Normally I try and leave on a positive note, but this time, this Ma could use all the words of encouragement and positive vibes to make this transition as easy as possible (if that’s possible) – in the meantime, I’ll just keep jamming to Beyoncé tunes to stay empowered and remind me that I got this, we got this.

-Ma

 

 

I Didn’t Forget About You Pa’s…

Father’s Day came and passed. So, you must be wondering about my tribute to the amazing Pa’s out there. To be honest, I get a little choked. I had to build up some tough skin to get my words out for this post. A Mother’s love holds its own special place. But I truly believe that a daughter’s first true love is her Father. Some find this statement offensive. I don’t. For us daughter’s, our Father is the first man who wiped away our first tears and held us close to their heart.

I have witnessed this love first hand between Amia and Matt, her Pa. I have never doubted Matt’s big heart, but since Amia, the love he gives her each and every day just moves me. I know he has been dealing with some changes in his career, but the second he walks through the front door every evening, he leaves work behind him and shows up for Amia. I’m guilty for giving him a hard time, almost all of the time, but I recognize his love for his daughter, I always have. He’s the goof she needs (I mean that in the nicest way); he’ll let her play with her food, splash a little longer in the bath tub, and push her bedtime for some extra giggles between the two of them. And Amia loves it. The moment she hears the front door unlock, she knows it’s Matt; she stops whatever she’s doing and turns to the direction of the door. Her face instantly lights up when she sees Matt walk in. This moment melts my heart every single day. The time they spend on evenings and weekends is short lived; I wish I could have Matt stay home all day, not for my own selfish reasons, but to see the bond between Amia and her Pa grow stronger.

I’ve come to the realization (there’s been a lot of these lately, bear with me), that a daughter and a Father’s relationship is very unique. To us daughter’s, our Father is like that best friend figure; he’s the go-to when we’re in need of something (and we know mom won’t approve), or when we want to be silly, or when we really disagree about something we won’t speak for days and then forget why we’re not talking. At least this is how I’ve experienced it to be. My Papa: the “goofiest cool strict Dad” you’ll ever meet. The thought of doing math homework with my Pops still gives me shivers – god forbid if I ever made a mistake. But it was my Pops who taught me how to ride a bike, polish my parallel parking skills before my driving test, and to overall be a tough cookie (but I still can’t kill a spider without calling him to the rescue). Even today, he empowers me to push myself and to never settle for second best. He will only ever give credit to my Mom (understandable), but give yourself a high-five, Pops – you did good.

And to the Ma’s out there who fulfill both the Ma and Pa duty; I salute you – you are my true heroes. I could never imagine raising Amia without Matt and I could never imagine growing up without my own Pops. Again, sorry Pa’s for the belated shout-out. Your efforts and selfless acts never go unnoticed.

– Ma

A Ma’s Day Special

This post is a special one. Today is Mother’s Day. A day we celebrate all of the beautiful Ma souls; our creators, the backbone of our existence. There is so much our Mother’s have done for us that go completely unnoticed. I only realized this after becoming a Ma. Our little ones will never know how us Ma’s survived the sleepless nights, the worries of feeding, or the way we watch them sleep. They’ll never get it. And that’s okay; I think it’s part of the role of Ma-hood. We do these things out of care and concern with no expectations; it’s how we’re naturally programmed. So as much as we should celebrate all the Ma’s today, they deserve to be honoured every single day for all that they do.

Like I said this post is a special one. I started this blog a few weeks after Amia was born. I felt empowered as a Ma to write and share not only the joys of Ma-hood, but the challenges we face but don’t talk about often. The writing has helped me mentally to let the thoughts out from my mind. I sent out a request on my personal Facebook page asking other Ma’s, Ma’s-to-be, and Pa’s too to share something about Ma-hood. And this is why this post is special. Today I’m sharing with all of you words from other brave Ma’s who are expressing their experiences/challenges/stories about Ma-hood. I’ll leave you here with their stories. Again, love your Ma’s today and always. No explanation needed. They need us as much as we need them.

-Ma

Pearly’s Story: 

January 03, 2016 was the day we found out we were expecting….  The day my maternal instinct kicked in, in full force.

Although it was a surprise to us, we were overcome with joy and lots of emotions. My husband, (boyfriend at the time) who had lost both parents a few years back, said to me “thank you for giving me a family”.

I’ll never forget that moment. I felt incredible, divine, powerful, fulfilled…

I also felt confused and tired. Very VERY tired. Despite knowing we were doing something great and out of pure love, I was confused. I have naturally always done things differently, against the “norms” of society and I am also never apologetic about it! This is who I am but suddenly I was thinking “people will be shocked” and “what will my family in Malaysia think?” and most importantly “my mom is going to be pissed!!” Regardless, it is news we had to share.

Growing up in a South Asian household predominantly influenced by a mix of Malaysian and Punjabi culture, we had always been outsiders in our own community. Simply because my parents were more liberal and understanding. Still, my mother WAS shocked…. AND pissed! When we told her, there was first a wave of calm and confusion. Then, a concerned/pissed mother with a million questions. Finally, an understanding and compassionate mother who held me and cried with me. She saw my confusion and offered her support. That is all I needed. All of this happened within 48hrs of us taking that pregnancy test. I had my true love and my mother and I felt incredibly loved and unstoppable.

This was the beginning of my journey into motherhood.

Although there were many ups and downs, I will focus on the high points.

My pregnancy was sensational. I’m not religious nor do I believe in a god but if there is such a thing, I found it in my partner. He is my king of strength. He is a hunter-gatherer protecting his women. He is a phenomenal man. From the physical comforting to my mental well being.. He tended to it all. When I met him, my life changed. I can see now that all of the bumps we faced in our lives (and there were a lot) were preparing us for each other. We survived distance, doubt, hate.. Our love created a life force. Proof that magic does exist.

I could not have had such a pleasant birth experience without him. From 3:30am when my water broke to pushing (REALLY hard) for 2.5 hrs. Together we experienced the most painful and challenging thing in our lives but it brought us even closer.

I’ll never forget the look in Nicho’s eyes when he saw Reina for the first time. He shed his previous sense of self and a father was born.

January 03, 2016 is the day I became a mother. 2 hearts became 3. The love I felt is indescribable. August 27, 2016.. the first time I felt Reina on my chest, I landed on another planet. Her cries turned into a calm sleep and unfathomable depths of love oceans flowed through us… I felt stronger, more intuitive and capable of being her mother. She is what I had been missing.

I had been waiting for her and I am so grateful she chose me.

Anonymous Story:

I began writing my birth story with the intention of sharing my experience with both birth and subsequently, life with a newborn. I reached two full pages of writing without even breaking the surface…which is when I decided to re-evaluate exactly what message I wanted to share for both interest’s sake and what I feel is most important to know; exactly how can I benefit any potential readers after sharing my piece? Well I’m about to try my best with the hour I have before babe wakes for a feed again.

The fact that I’m being given an opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences through a fellow mom is bit of a testament in itself to a lot of the feelings I’ve had during my first six weeks as a new mother to our beautiful baby; as parents, we need each other more than I could’ve ever imagined. Before giving birth, I was always a very independent person – asking for help and support didn’t run thick through my veins. I can’t tell you how much I’ve changed in just six weeks. Realizing I was about to and actually giving birth at 35 weeks pregnant all within the span of four hours was just the beginning. Without any further ado, I want to share my experiences here in way of gratitude. I’d prefer this to be a bit more polished, but with a newborn on my baby monitor potentially waking at any time, I’m going to give you my raw thoughts…so here I go:

  • To all my fellow moms and dads: thank you for welcoming us with open arms, encouraging and supporting us as we made the biggest transition of our lives. I used to think the whole “welcome to the parenthood club” was like okay yeah, cute, y’all are parents and a bunch of geeks now (hey, no hate…I voluntarily joined this club!) but I can’t explain what a club it truly is; it’s like receiving all this love and support from people you may have not even shared much of a connection with before, or people you hardly even know. They get it, you get it…and it’s a bond like I’ve never had with anyone before; not even the people I am closest to. So thank you for enabling me to have such wonderful outreach along my journey so far. My sanity would not exist without you.
  • To my fellow mommas: you are freaking INCREDIBLE for everything you do, from birth to the moment your baby leaves for college. I now truly understand why moms are often likened to superheroes – this isn’t some cute suggestion, moms are the real-life definition. You deserve the world.
  • To all you supportive dads: you are ROCKS and bring so much calm to the turmoil us new mothers are going through. Having a baby with a supportive dad has made me fall in love with him ten times over…I just can’t imagine doing it without him. For those of you that have done it without “him”, you are incredibly amazing for being so strong. I look up to you.
  • To single moms, moms of multiples, and moms with more than one child: I don’t know how you do it. I truly don’t. You are amazing and deserve a national award. Sending you so much love and strength. You are ROCKSTARS.
  • To my fellow moms of preemies – I know. I know the pain, the guilt, and the joy of seeing your whole heart go through things that even an adult would find scary; waiting to see if your baby would start reversing their above-threshold- weight loss and jaundice…and seeing that feeding tube go through their tiny noses into their bellies to nourish them. These are just some of the problems with premature babies, and after meeting several other sweet mothers who were doing the same song and dance as I was – breast pumping for 20 minutes (since you weren’t allowed to try breastfeeding because it would impact your baby’s delicate energy reserves), coming to feed your milk to your baby and rock them to sleep, then returning to your room to eat and do it all again an hour later for the entire duration of your baby’s stay in the NICU – I couldn’t fathom the bigger problems our baby’s NICU neighbours were facing. A few moms had babies in the NICU for months after delivering 2-pounders. My heart goes out to you all, moms of preemies and micro-preemies. I hope it gets better soon.
  • To nurses of all wards: you are true angels on earth. It brings me to tears just thinking of how incredibly sweet, supportive, and caring you all are. What you do is SO important and you help to change lives for the better every single day. I’m bordering a career change here…;)
  • To my fellow mom out walking her newborn, covering those teary, dark-circle- ridden eyes with giant sunglasses, sporting unwashed hair, and clothes stained with milk and all sorts of baby fluids: thank you for that knowing smile you flash me when we pass each other. There’s nothing like solidarity – stay strong, sister!
  • To mothers experiencing post-partum depression (PPD): we must believe that life will go on and things will get better with time; as much as I am reminded of this, on my darkest days, there is no light at the end of the tunnel despite how anyone tries to paint the picture for you. I hope that anyone experiencing symptoms of PPD get them checked as soon as possible, and for those family members and friends of someone who might be at risk, please do not dismiss the signs as being normal emotions (although it is a roller coaster for the first couple of weeks) when they are experiencing them long after giving birth. Please encourage them to seek help. Mental health is more important than I ever knew before now, and there is absolutely no shame or guilt in speaking up about your true feelings.
  • To friends and family of mine that have had a baby that I’ve visited in the past: I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not offering more help and recognizing that the last thing you wanted to do was chit chat about baby and your birth story, about what’s going on with me, etc. for any time over 30 minutes. My vow to my friends and family with babes in the future is to come over (if you will accept), bring you meals, groceries, cook for you, take out your garbage’s, do you laundry if you are comfortable, watch babe while you shower, whatever you want. You got it.
  • To friends and family of parents: your friend/sister/brother/daughter, etc. need you. They need you to offer and push your help on them. Thank you to all supportive friends and family out there. Without you, we wouldn’t be succeeding.
  • To mommas-to- be: I need you to know that early parenthood is truly both the most wonderful, the most difficult, and one of the most trying times of your life so far. Nothing can prepare you for it. I encourage you to reach out for support of all kinds: accept ALL of the help you can get – cooked meals, groceries, cleaning, watching babe while you sleep (SLEEP WHILE THEY SLEEP!)…accept all the damn help you can get! Because, trust me love, you barely find time to even feed and hydrate yourself. Please also remember to never feel judged for any decision you make – there is no right way to do anything except love up on your babe. Especially for feeding – know that FED is BEST. No one cares if you feed by breast or formula –please make the decision that is best for your sanity. To take care of your baby, you need to take care of yourself. More important to keep in mind – enjoy your little human as much as possible. Every coo, every snuggle, every tiny smile (whether it’s gas or not, hah!)…and attempting to read I’ll love you forever while rocking your babe…good luck to you and your melting heart 😉 Parenthood is truly the hardest job in the entire world. Please go hug your mothers and fathers, and for those of you who are mothers, go and do something for yourself. This mothers day, I have been blessed with not only the title of mom, but an entirely new perspective on life. Parenthood is so much more than I could’ve ever anticipated; nothing can truly prepare you for the road ahead. I’ve never felt more vulnerable, naïve, in love, frustrated, scared, and sleep-deprived in my life. But what’s most important is that despite consistently cold coffee and being in pyjamas all day every day, my baby is happy and is thriving. I have so much love and respect for parents, I can’t even explain it…so I won’t begin to try. Sending so much love to all you amazing moms and dads forever and always. Infinite x’s and o’s.

Francine’s Story: 

Motherhood happened suddenly and apologetically. It didn’t care that I packed up all of my shit and left a man’s home, changed my number and vowed never to speak to him again. That I was in a different country, alone, left my job and my city. I did not feel bad that I was 36, divorced, not married to the father of the baby and broke with no plan. I didn’t feel sorry that I wasn’t prepared to hear I would be a mother and single mother, face my family, her father, the shame of an imperfect situation.

I thought I couldn’t do it. Despite her disappointment of the circumstances, it was my mother who told me as I paced the hallways of the hospital, that I could do it and that it would be fine. I let go of that shame and at that first ultrasound a day later..felt joy.
The rest of my pregnancy was magical. I soaked it all in and I accepted that although I didn’t have much, we would have everything we needed.

I was a total rockstar in the birth (I have to give myself props)! I had a home birth and never been so proud. Despite a complication that caused a lot of blood loss and could have been fatal, I still feel like a rockstar because I did it, I survived it and I would do it all again.

Motherhood has been beautiful and challenging but committing and trusting in something greater than myself to guide me and protect us both has been an absolute awakening. I have something I’ve always wanted and it took it to come in the most unapologetic and rude way possible but I am so grateful for the gift of my beautiful daughter, for being knocked on my ass and for giving me the opportunity to build it all back up one block at a time..with patience and authenticity.

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

After a serious hiatus, I am back. I actually started this post a while ago, but geez, life just got really busy. Our little warrior is now 7 months. I’m still in denial. Time needs to chill. In the last 7 months, we have seriously come a long way. By we, I mean Matt, myself, and Amia. We’ve adjusted nicely to our cozy family of three. Nothing is perfect, nor will it ever be, but each and every day we are thankful for our life and for each other. Originally, I wanted my next post (being this post) to go back in time – I have wanted to share our honeymoon travels to Dubai, Maldives, and India. Instead, I’ll give you a little update on us (because it has been a while). But I promise, one day, l will write about our trip of a lifetime; it deserves to be shared.

We’ve been keeping busy since my last post. We took our first family trip and visited Matt’s parents in Florida. When I was 4 months old, my adventurous parents packed me up and took me overseas to India. Brave, right? I figured if they could handle an infant on an international flight – I got this – what’s a 4 hour flight to Florida? I wasn’t worried. We spent our weekends leading up to the trip preparing and buying items; mostly for the little one. New stroller. New summer clothes (my favourite part). New bottles. New carrier. Lots and lots of new. I started packing 3 weeks in advance. I wanted to be sure nothing would get missed. I consider myself organized – not overly organized, but I can get it together. I don’t colour coordinate or label items, but I can place items in piles and know what’s going on.  All that to say, I was feeling pretty confident up until the night before our flight. That’s when it truly hit me that my child will be taking a flight for the first time and I don’t know if I’m prepared for the worst case scenario. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much the night before our flight. We had a 6 AM flight and had to be at the airport for 4 AM. Before putting Amia to bed that night, we placed her into her travel clothes – less to do in the morning. While our little one was getting some much needed rest, Matt and I were doing the sheer opposite – we were still packing. This is when my nerves kicked in – what if we were missing something really important? What if I didn’t have enough clothes? Did we pack the thermometer? Enough bottles? Did someone pack socks for her? Socks? Really? We were going to Florida. But I was a worried wreck and I don’t think I’ve experienced such anxiety as much as I did that night before our flight.

In any case we arrived at the airport on time. Checked-in. Ready to board. So far, everything was going smoothly; even our luggage weight was perfect. Normally, I am not a nervous flyer – I’ve always enjoyed flying and travelling. But travelling with an infant is VERY different. Along with our luggage, we had Amia’s diaper bag, her car seat, her stroller, her carrier to lug around. From my research on my Mom Facebook groups, I knew that it was suggested to nurse Amia during take-off and landing. My attention was geared towards her well-being and comfort that I completely forgot to chew gum – I always need gum during take-off. But of course, she surprised me. Not a single tear during take-off. She was just so curious about her new environment; the whole process didn’t faze her. It was such a good feeling when we landed – leaving the snow behind us, taking in the sunshine, and enjoying some much needed family time. We spent a few days with my in-laws and then headed to Orlando for the remainder of the trip. I was pretty adamant to visit Disney World – what’s the point, right? Your 6 month old will not remember a thing. Without sounding too silly, the visit to Disney World was for me. I have been bugging Matt for a while now about visiting Disney – I was on his case that we should go before we have kids; it’ll be more enjoyable – but he didn’t listen. I had been to Disney a couple of times; this was Matt’s first time. We managed to enjoy the full day at one of the theme parks. I was worried that the day would be too much for Amia. But, again, she surprised me. She was a champ and thoroughly enjoyed being outdoors and even loved being on some of the slow paced rides. She was soaking it all in; now, if only Ma could just sit back and do the same.

I think as Mom’s, our number one stress is worrying. At least for me. I worried so much about Amia’s well-being throughout the trip. She was completely fine. But I worry because of the unknowns. I am a planner and I like to know details. In this case, we didn’t know how she would respond to a new environment – the weather, the new sleeping arrangements, or the new routine for the week. But, I’ll say this one last time, she surprised me. Babies are very adaptable, more so than we are as adults. They sense change, but they don’t shy away from it. They embrace it and love it. Without any trouble, Amia was back to her routine once we returned home. Overall, a very successful first family trip. We’re ready for the next adventure.

So, going back to the part about us Mom’s stressing ourselves out from all the worrying we do; seriously, we need to tone it down, or at least I’ve been told by Matt I need to chill sometimes. I can’t help it. I grew a human inside of me for 40 weeks 5 days. I think I mentioned this in my first post, but my worrying kicked in the second we found out we were pregnant. But now my worries have heightened to an entirely different level. Is she eating okay? Is she sleeping okay? Oh my, the sleeping. Let’s talk about the worry surrounding her sleep for a second. Since birth, we co-slept. At the time, this was the best decision for us. Fast forward to Amia at 4 months and the whole co-sleeping thing was not going well anymore. Her sleep schedule suddenly changed on us and she would wake up every 2 hours to feed. Something had to give otherwise this zombie of a Ma was going to lose her mind. So, we started the process of sleep training. This meant that we moved Amia to her own room in her own crib. This transition came with a lot of worries and heavy hearts. The adjustment was not easy, for Ma, Pa, or Amia. Matt and I dedicated a weekend to start Amia’s sleep training process and I was told to leave the house on the first night as things would not be easy for me. We were working with a professional sleep consultant through this process but it was still very difficult to fathom. Why? Well, just imagine this child who only knows the comfort of her mother or father and only knows how to sleep in their arms is now being forced to sleep in a completely new environment. Amia didn’t know any better. I felt terrible the first night we started. I remember waking up in tears and telling Matt I wanted to bring her back to our room. I was ready to back out. But through Matt’s encouragement and determination and realizing that this was best for our little one and for us, we kept at it. He was the superstar throughout the training. All I could do the first night she was in her crib on her own was just worry. I watched the monitor like a hawk – constantly checking her breathing reassuring myself by watching her chest move up and down; the slightest noise making me want to run to her room to check on her. Of course, during this time Amia learned how to roll over on to her stomach – the panic set in because the second we put her on her back to sleep, she’d roll. But we quickly realized (and researched) that once baby’s start rolling over on to their stomachs, they’re fine.  Although it has been a couple of months now since Amia has been sleeping in her own crib, from time I still wake up to check the monitor to make sure she’s okay. I’m that Ma!

Yup, I am that Ma and I’m not ashamed or embarrassed to admit to it. We all have our own irks and quirks, our own opinions on things, and our own preferences on how to do things, and that’s perfectly okay. You created your own child, therefore only YOU have the right on how to raise your child. Another fair assessment about your children is that they all come in different shapes and sizes. Amia is a petite one. She was born at 7 lbs 9 oz; however, genetics would suggest she’s just a wee one. Our doctor has never shown any concern regarding Amia’s weight. Amia is reaching all of her milestones, she is a happy baby (most of the time), and most of all eats, poops, and pee’s around the clock. But this Ma was worried (sometimes, still am). And I think what sparked my worrying is that anytime Amia was surrounded by other babies around her age, well the comments would start pouring in: “Oh my, she’s so tiny.” Yes, I am well aware my babe is tiny, I created this human. No, I’m not depriving my child. But as our doctor put it, Ma and Pa are not large people; therefore don’t expect a chunky monkey of a baby. But no matter what the doctor would tell me to assure me that Amia is growing perfectly, it was bothering me. I somewhat started doubting myself. Maybe my breastmilk isn’t cutting it? Maybe I’m doing something wrong? Or maybe I’m missing her cues? Gosh, the thoughts that eat at you sometimes almost don’t let you live. I would constantly worry about this, especially before bed. And of course, asking Dr. Google did not help. Ma’s, if there’s one piece of advice I could give, it is to NOT Google anything related to your baby period. I think at one point I had myself convinced that there was genuinely something wrong with me or with my babe. That’s when I realized, enough was enough. Honestly, trust your instincts and move forward.

As time goes by, I’m slowly starting to get over it: worrying aimlessly about Amia. Because in the grand scheme of things, I need to stop taking to heart about what others have to say about MY child. I made her. I know her best. I know what she needs. I know when she needs to be fed, held, soothed, or changed. I don’t need anyone telling me otherwise (of course my own Mother is the exception to this rule). I’m mastering the “in one ear, out through the other” practise when it comes to people and their opinions. I know some people are genuinely offering a suggestion of help, but trust me, I got this. All that to say, I still worry sometimes about Amia’s weight, but now that she’s eating 2-3 meals a day, plus her bottles, plus the breastmilk (she’s an eating machine), she’s good. I’ve accepted that my 7 month old is a petite babe, and I’m okay with that. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that just as every person is unique, so are babies – that’s why it makes me wonder why we try and put babies into the same basket and compare them. A baby will learn how to crawl, roll over, babble, or walk when they’re ready to do so. The “Mom Competition” is real. So many times I’ve heard Mom’s comment over one another. Sometimes, the comparisons are really not necessary. All of our babes are achieving their milestones in their own special ways; let’s celebrate that. I think it’s also important to note that we shouldn’t be afraid to discuss our fears about our babe’s or about our postpartum life. I’ve said this before, life after baby is not glamourous. I am guilty of sometimes posting your standard hallmark-esque pictures that deceivingly show nothing but smiles and happiness in our life. Trust me, it’s not like that 90% of the time around here. We have our ugly days and then we have our very ugly days. But I hope by opening up about some of worry’s related to Amia will show that I’m just as human as you are and I’m trying to figure it out one day at a time.

So, as much as Ma-hood has brought happiness and excitement in my life, the level of worriedness for my child has grown exponentially. It’ll never change. I know this is only just the beginning. I’m trying very hard to not turn into a helicopter Mom – only because I want my child to explore and grow as freely as possible, but my helicopter Mom tendencies do come out in some moments. I’m also trying not to worry to the point where that’s all I do and fail to enjoy the precious moments with my little one. I never believed it when people would say to me, “Enjoy this time, it flies by.” I get it now. At 7 months I can’t believe how much has changed. My next big worry: daycare. Our hunt has begun and it absolutely scares me. I’ll save that story for another time. For now, let’s all try to worry a little less about things and enjoy the present moment with our loved ones – especially our precious little munchkins; they’re the best.

-Ma

 

Appreciate. Appreciate. Appreciate.

How often do we sit back to reflect and appreciate the little things in our lives? I remember as kids growing up, my parents would always reiterate to my brother and I to always be thankful and appreciate the food on the table, the hot water, and the roof over our head. We did. I don’t think we’d be where we are today if we didn’t appreciate these things. But since becoming a Ma, I have found myself in general just observing more, understanding more, and definitely appreciating more.

Observing. Until recently, I never paid attention to accessibility or convenience in public places. I used to access the automatic doors nonchalantly. Unknowingly press the handicap button to open doors. Funniest one: take the stairs wherever I could because elevators make me feel claustrophobic. Fast forward to today, I now think twice before leaving the house to venture out with my almost 5 month old. Not because we don’t want to leave the house, but because I need to ensure that we’re well equipped to tackle the obstacles ahead in our day’s excursion. What if there’s no nursing room (this “what if” is ALWAYS a major concern)? What if beb has a major poop explosion (this has happened)? What if there’s nowhere to change the little one? All the “what if”s” that a first time Ma could possibly think of literally seep through my mind. And I don’t believe I’m wrong in thinking this way because I have been in situations where the place in question has no means of accommodating me or my little one. About a month ago, I shared on my Facebook the horrible experience I had at the passport office. I won’t get into the details of that experience here again, but in a nutshell, it was not pleasant. Waiting for over 2 hours to be attended to. No place to change the little one. No place to feed the little one. No proper place to sit with the little one. No courtesy. When we were first attended to for our initial application screening, I jokingly (well, deep down I was quite serious) said, “Oh, is there a priority for women with young kids?” The person behind the counter just chuckled. Okay then.

So, I’m not trying to come across as a “negative Nancy” here by complaining about all the wrongs that I have been encountering lately; I’m just trying to create some awareness about the struggles us new Ma’s (and experienced Ma’s) tend to experience. Another struggle. Parking lots. How many parking lots do you know of that have priority parking for pregnant women and/or women with young children? I’ve seen a few lots, but how many spots? In my opinion, not enough. Isn’t that a bit ludicrous? Actually, what’s extremely ludicrous is how I went to the mall with beb the other day and the automatic sliding doors had a sign saying, “It’s cold out and for that reason the automatic sliding doors are out of service.” Um, pardon? So, you expect me to open a door and struggle to wheel in the stroller at the same time? The worst is coming across a handicap button that fails to open. This one makes me sad/angry. So, all that being said, how do we make this society realize the obstacles that exist for women who are either pregnant or have young children? Actually, how are people who rely on accessibility assistance coping? Seriously makes me wonder and question our true concern for those in need.

In any case, at almost 5 months post-partum, personally I’ve started to stop caring as much. Caring less in the sense that if I need to feed my child, I will find a quiet private corner and feed. Or, if I need to change her soiled diaper, I will lay down a blanket and her “on-the-go” change pad (so convenient!) and change away. But the issue of accessibility still angers me – something needs to change. Ma’s need to unite to make a difference; who is with me?

Understanding. The understanding component stems from me being more observant of my surroundings lately. I now understand how challenging Ma-hood is. Not just on an emotional and physical level, but psychologically it can take a toll on you. If we stay home, we go crazy. If we go out, we also go crazy, well more so me. But I choose the latter. Getting out and seeing other faces make both of us happy (I think). And as the days go by, I’m more understanding of Amia’s needs – when she needs to nap, play, or needs a change of scenery. Slowly a routine is forming; although, there are some days where she throws me off. But this “understanding” would not have happened without observing her ever changing personality and behaviours. Unfortunately, she didn’t come with a manual (I remember my parents used to say this – actually, they still say this). Both, Ma and Pa are learning and are more understanding of the time we spend with Amia now. These months are pivotal as Amia is growing and developing, so as much as it might feel like a mission to head out that front door, I make every effort to make it happen. Whether it be to a mall that doesn’t have working sliding doors to wheel in a stroller or running an errand where there are no proper amenities, I understand that we both need that fresh air.

Appreciating. Oh, how this sometimes gets ignored. This is probably the main reason for writing this post: to emphasize how we sometimes take the little things for granted and forget to appreciate all components in our life. Personally, before becoming a Ma, I never appreciated my independence; how easy it was to just make plans, jump in my car, and head on out. I never appreciated the automatic sliding doors before. I never appreciated just carrying my tote purse (although sometimes heavy because my whole life used to be in my purse). I never appreciated taking the time to do my hair, my make-up, or putting on a clean pair of leggings. I also never appreciated my pre-pregnancy body. This is real talk. And this is definitely not a negative connotation towards Ma-hood. I’m just expressing how I never truly appreciated these little facets that made up my life. Now, spending almost all of my waking time with another little human has opened up my eyes and undoubtedly made me appreciate what I used to take for granted. On a sentimental note, Amia has made me appreciate the importance of life and this new role of Ma-hood. Her existence keeps me going everyday (despite the lack of sleep, but we’re working on this). She’s made me appreciate my new self and this new chapter and that Ma-hood comes with its ups and down, challenges, and struggles. My little warrior has given me a new purpose. I don’t necessarily care for doing my hair perfectly every day, or putting on the best of make-up, or wearing the best of clothes – I do take a day every so often to pamper myself, but every other day is dedicated to my one and only and I’m perfectly content with that. I’m not sad or depressed about the fact that I didn’t appreciate certain things pre-Ma-hood. I do miss that life sometimes: the simplicity, the fun, the “me, myself, and I” phase. But now I can’t imagine my life any other way. I mean it. Every morning, I look forward to seeing Amia’s smiles, hearing her babbles, getting her all dressed up. It gets to me a little sometimes, but that’s okay, I think it’s normal. And that’s when Pa plays a crucial role by keeping me sane. So, all that to say, seriously, appreciate the things and people in your life – whether it’s something new or old, embrace it all.

A bit of mixed thoughts with this post, but I hope I connected the dots as best as I could. I have been battling with getting some sleep for the last couple of weeks. But I really wanted to touch on some of the challenges and realizations Ma-hood encompasses. Hold tight for the next post, I think I’m going to expand my thoughts and go back in time with the next one. For now, take a few minutes to reflect and appreciate the goodness in your life; it’ll make you smile, I promise.

– Ma

 

Part II

First things first – to those who personally reached out to me after reading my first blog entry; thank you. Your words of encouragement and endearment have given me the drive to keep sharing my untold thoughts. And to those who let me in and shared their most deepest experiences – I sincerely and wholeheartedly appreciate it. I feel trusted and humbled and send positivity your way, always. Truthfully speaking, I held no expectations when I started my blog. I was overwhelmed with the feedback I received. I wrote from the heart. I felt vulnerable. But I felt good. I felt proud of myself for finally opening up.

As it stands, I’m not sure what the blogging etiquette is just yet. Time is key. And so is sleep. My thoughts tend to keep me from getting sleep, so I write at night. But this habit is catching up to me. And, inevitably the days are getting busier with our little warrior. At roughly 16 weeks post-partum, I can confidently say I’m getting a hold on Ma-hood. My c-section wound is almost healed and faded. I’m able to care for Amia on my own. Things around here are slowly starting to feel “normal”.

On a personal note, I’m in a much better place as well. But from time to time, I still struggle with my inner battles: emotions, pain, and my patience. My last visit with the doctor was in late December. She was happy with my progress. Despite my positive healing, I was given strict orders to still avoid heavy lifting for at least two more weeks. Patience, Ma. As much as I felt ready to pack-up Amia and head to mommy playgroups or go to the mall or just step out for a coffee – I couldn’t, not just yet. By this time, Pa was back at work. It was just Amia and I at home for 8 full hours. For those that don’t know me, I am not a home body (my parents can attest to this). So, staying cooped up for an entire day at home was, for lack of a better word, torture. Don’t get me wrong, spending the days with Amia are the best. But the days felt monotonous; get-up, play, feed, nap, and repeat. Literally, I would be checking the time on my phone like a hawk thinking to myself, “Ok, it’s noon, I have 4 more hours until Matt gets home!” For whatever reason, this comforted me.

Amia was handed off to Matt the second he got home. Poor guy probably didn’t even get a chance to wash his hands. But Matt didn’t mind. He would take Amia and start talking to me about his day at work. And then I would get mad. Not at him specifically, just at the situation and circumstances. Matt had the ability to take a warm shower, leave the house, converse with adults, drink a hot coffee, eat a hot meal, and come home to just tell me all about it. My day was the complete opposite. I couldn’t shower. I couldn’t have a hot cup of tea. I couldn’t eat when I wanted to. I had a baby glued to my breast, for what felt like all the time. I was struggling. And because I was struggling, we were struggling. Our evenings together felt cold and bitter. I would get angry. Amia would be fussy. I would let out my frustration on Matt. He wouldn’t listen. It was rough.  If there was one piece of advice we received pre-marriage, it was to never go to bed angry at one another. Well, let’s just say given our situation, that piece of advice was not being adhered to very well. I was tired from my day with Amia. He was tired from his day at work. We were both tired. Add in my animosity. It was a disastrous recipe.

I know I’m getting pretty detailed with the struggles between Matt and I. But I feel it’s important to talk about this aspect of parenthood. Parenthood seems to be advertised as solely just about raising kids. False. Parenthood is also about the parents and the major adjustments happening on the whim (literally). No book, prenatal class, or person (not even your own parents) can prepare you for parenthood. You just have to live it to experience it. Having a baby is a beautiful moment and journey. We were always told this. What no one warned us about were the challenges. I’m not sure why it’s not talked about as much as it should be – it’s real and can take a huge toll on a relationship. Having a baby is not all “rainbows and butterflies”. This tiny human relies on us to be fed, to be changed, to be clothed, to be transported safely to where ever we venture out to. That’s a lot to ask for from two people who have no clue what they’re doing. We’ve had our meltdown moments. We’ve also had our moments where we’re not on the same page. So in parenthood, along with the precious moments, the dreadful crappy moments exist too. Irrespective of our disagreements, Amia needs us. Matt and I have learned to talk things out. We’ve learned to both be open minded and understanding. We’re learning – parenthood is just one huge learning curve that never really ends.

As the days go on, things are slowly getting manageable. I’m trying to change my attitude and view on how things are. As much as the days might feel daunting and repetitive, I keep telling myself that these are precious days. In fact, I don’t have to tell myself, I see it firsthand just how special my days are with Amia. Despite the lack of hours of sleep, it’s the most heart melting feeling waking up to Amia’s babbling first thing in the morning. So, when Matt comes home now and tells me about his day, I share mine too. I tell him about the new things Amia started doing. So, instead of being frustrated or bitter with each other, we share what’s on our mind. We’re not just bettering ourselves for each other, but for Amia too – we want her to know that throughout the chaos of raising her, Ma and Pa had fun with it too.

Positive side note – since starting this post (yes, it takes a while to get one posted) I have ventured out with Amia on my own. Such a good feeling. It’s an accomplishment to have my independence back. I’ve met friends for lunch, went to the mall (finally!), and for the first time went to a mom’s meet-up group. The mom meet-up group very much opened up my eyes – I am not alone. Hearing about other birth experiences and learning about post-partum services – things I wish I had known before delivering or even before getting pregnant. But now I know where to turn to should Matt and I have another child. Regardless, today, I’m feeling better and very optimistic about the months to come with Amia.

So all in all, like I said in my previous post, my patience was truly tested throughout my post pregnancy recovery experience. But I’ve realized my patience is being tested every single day. With Amia. With Matt. With myself. Bettering my patience is a work in progress. Parenthood is a work in progress. Life is a work in progress. What works one day, never seems to work the next. But with lots of patience, perseverance, dedication, and lots and lots and LOTS of love, we will be just fine. I am thankful for Matt and his unconditional love and commitment. No doubt, he is my rock. I am trying to be a better person for him. He does a lot for us, and sometimes I forget. So this time, I leave you with yet another task; this time it’s for the wives: give your significant other an extra snuggle today; sometimes we forget (at least I hope it’s not just me) that they’re human too. Love you, Pa.

-Ma

Untold Thoughts: Ma and Pa Edition

Part I

Here goes. The mom blogger in me is coming out. What makes this blog space different; probably nothing. But for a while now I’ve been meaning to start a blog. I have finally built up the courage and dedication to express my inner thoughts. I’ve been inspired to write and learned that life is too delicate to not share our experiences.

So, here I am, a new Ma. My inspiration to start writing is my little warrior (I’ll introduce her in a little bit). Throughout the past year, she has changed me. She has made me realize SO much. She has especially made me realize that she has one awesome Pa (not that I ever had any doubts, Pa). So of course, a special shout-out goes to Pa for supporting and encouraging me to start my blog. I won’t get into why I titled my blog the “Untold Thoughts” or why I refer to my husband and I as “Pa” and “Ma” – truthfully, I haven’t figured it out yet; it sounded good so I just went with it.

For now, let’s start from the beginning…

I am Ma, Meenakshi Sharma-Vadnais, and my husband, Pa, is Mathieu Vadnais (Matt). We became Ma and Pa on January 4, 2016 – the pregnancy test was positive: “Pregnant 1-2 weeks”. WOW. We were both shocked in a VERY good way. We weren’t actively trying but we also weren’t actively taking preventative measures. Matt and I got married in March 2015. We weren’t living together before marriage, primarily because we weren’t allowed to. My background is Indian (South Asian). My parents were born in India and immigrated to Canada many years ago. Although my parents knew that within the Western society it is socially acceptable for a man and woman to live together before marriage, they weren’t ready to allow the same for their only Indian daughter. We respected their wish. To be honest, it didn’t bother me. If anything, it made me look forward to the special moments to come. That morning when I first woke up next to Matt, as my husband, was the most heart filling feeling. Every morning for the rest of my life I would be so fortunate to wake up to my best friend, my husband, my soulmate. The first thing Matt and I wanted to do as a married couple was travel, so that’s just what we did. In May 2015 we rented a car and drove to New York. In October 2015, we took a month off from work and ventured out to Dubai, Maldives, and India (one day I will sit down and write about this trip of a lifetime). Even after we found out we were pregnant, we still wanted to travel. So to celebrate our one year anniversary in March 2016, we visited Quebec City. Matt and I are very laid back; we like to have fun and be adventurous. So all that to say, we couldn’t wait to start our next biggest adventure: parenthood.

I must say, my pregnancy experience was different. In my opinion and from my research, very unorthodox. The biggest difference and lifesaver: NO MORNING SICKNESS. Instead, I developed a cherry angioma (skin growth) under my left eye, had countless nose bleeds and headaches, swollen gums, and extreme lower back pain. This is not a complaint. I loved my pregnancy and would go through it again in a heartbeat. I felt so proud and determined while carrying my baby. Right from the moment I knew I was pregnant, my little one empowered me. I continued going to the gym and joined a prenatal yoga class. This was probably the best decision I made. The yoga not only required me to stretch my muscles and joints, it kept me sane. My work days kept normal; I stayed motivated and determined to complete all of my projects (this meant lots of meetings and long ones too!). I ate good and bad (I developed a serious sweet tooth during my pregnancy). I did have a couple of scares: the first at around 17 weeks which sent us to the ER. All was fine, normal cramping. The second time was around 32 weeks, I thought my water was leaking; turned out to be a false alarm, just slightly peed myself (also very normal). Even though the pregnancy was going as per the “normal” medical standards, I was always worried. Worrying about the safety of my baby in my womb, about what I was eating, or why baby hadn’t kicked in a few hours. I guess you could say my “motherly worry syndrome” (yes I made this term up) kicked in immediately. I always tell my mom to stop worrying and she always responds back saying that she can’t help it. I get it, totally get it now, Mom. In any case, I didn’t let this feeling take over my life or anything, but it was always at the back of my head. What helped to kick the worry feeling to the curb were the moments. The unforgettable precious moments throughout my pregnancy. Like seeing the reaction on my parents and in-laws faces when we told them that they’re going to be grandparents (first time for my parents!), or finding out the gender of the baby, or feeling that first kick – these moments are unbelievable and indescribable. I’m trying to hold back tears as I write this part. Carrying a child brings so much joy to everyone around you. It’s a feel good feeling knowing you and your baby are loved so dearly by your family, friends, and co-workers (since the majority of your week days are spent at the office). I miss it.

We found out on Mother’s Day with our families that Matt and I were having a baby girl. I knew it, not because I peeked at the envelope we received from the ultrasound technician, but because it was just my gut feeling. Maybe I’m being a tad bit biased because I always wanted to bring a girl into this world. I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I am a feminist. By feminist, I mean I believe in equal rights – I’ll save my political thoughts for another post. Regardless of my views, I want my girl to break barriers and climb to the top. I purposely refrain from calling her my princess (you may have noticed); she is my warrior. She will be a fighter, an achiever, and above all, a good human being like her Ma and Pa. I want her to discover this beautiful world and allow her experiences to shape the person she becomes. And more importantly, I always want her to know that Ma and Pa will be here to guide and support her throughout her life.

On September 19, 2016, our baby girl, Amia Vadnais, was born and decided it would be fun (AH it’s like she already knew Ma and Pa were fun people!) to share her birthday with Pa’s. Oh the birthing story (one of the main reasons why I’m writing this blog). Let’s talk about the birthing experience. Before even carrying a child, the thought of labour terrified me. The pain. The endless hours of pain. And then, more pain. I didn’t even know what the pain would feel like, but I was already scared. All in all, I was NOT looking forward to the labour. Serious kudos to the mama’s who truly embrace birth. I wasn’t one of them, mentally and physically I hated it.

Baby was due on September 14th. I was SO certain our little one was going to make an early appearance. I walked and walked and walked. I did squats. I ate spicy food. I tried just about anything and everything in hopes she would arrive on time. My water broke on Sunday, September 18th. At first, I didn’t even realize what was going on – I thought I was peeing myself, again. Once we arrived at the hospital they took a swab and sure enough it was amniotic fluid that was leaking (nope, there was no big splash of water). My water broke but I wasn’t contracting. The doctor told me I could be admitted at that moment and start the medication to induce me or I go back home and wait it out but return within 7 hours. Matt and I chose the latter. It was a surreal feeling. These were the last few hours of just us. So, we soaked it in. We chilled out at my parents place and at his parents place. We finally made our way back to the hospital around 7 PM. We were both waiting for this day to arrive and it was finally here. I think we were both shitting our pants but we won’t admit it to one another. We settled into our room and I remember just thinking to myself as I slipped into that nice cold hospital gown (can you sense my sarcasm?), “Here we go!” The nurses came into the room, started poking me to get the IV line through my vein, started asking me the standard questions, and finally handed me a pill to take to kick-start this labour.

After ingesting the pill twice, it wasn’t working. Finally, the nurses started me on Oxytocin. I stopped dilating at 7 cm. My epidural wore off. I needed another one. The pain, oh the pain I felt. I remember looking at Matt with tears in my eyes just sobbing and saying I couldn’t do this anymore. The helpless look on his face broke my heart. He just held my hand tighter and continuously reminded me that I could get through this. Over 24 hours later, the call was made – I needed a caesarean section. I couldn’t believe it. No really, I felt like my body just gave up on me. I promised myself I would not have a birth plan but I didn’t actually think this could happen to me. I was so overwhelmed and scared with all of the nurses and the three doctors in the room, all prepping me for surgery. I remember my parents came in and as soon as I saw my mom’s face, I just cried. I wanted my mom. I needed my mom. I didn’t want the surgery; I wanted my mom to fix this. At this point, I was very drugged up. I had the epidural put in for the second time plus the spinal freezing. I was being wheeled through the halls to the surgical room with nurses surrounding my stretcher. I cannot and will not forget one of the anesthesiologists. I am a huge believer that there is always someone watching/guiding over us – that day I saw and felt it. She talked me through every single thing that was going on as I was lying on the surgical table waiting to be cut open. Matt wasn’t in the room with me yet as he was getting ready for the surgery too. I wish I could remember the name of the anesthesiologist. I wish I could personally thank her for showing her true compassion and care. She held my hand and consistently reassured me that everything was going to be ok. Bless this lady. The curtain was placed in front of me and I waited. I waited to be sliced open. To be honest, I don’t remember when Matt entered the room. At this point, there was only one thing on my mind, my baby’s (sorry Pa!) and her well-being. I never told the nurses or the doctor’s, but I could see the entire procedure unfold in front of me through the reflection from the bright surgical light above me. So through this reflection, I anxiously waited to see my little warrior enter this world.

The first cry. I was so relieved to hear that first cry. I cried. I looked at Matt, he was in tears too. I cried more. The nurses brought our little warrior over to us and I was able to have her bare skin touch mine. With all the chaos in the room, that moment of having my baby on my chest felt serene. The nurses had to take her away after a few minutes. This hurt. I had to be put back together. I say it like this because literally that’s what the doctor’s had to do. All I wanted to do was hold my little one against my chest and feel her fresh new skin on me. Putting me back together felt like it was taking an eternity. I was finally wheeled from the surgery room to the recovery room. The nurse started working on getting my baby to latch on to my breast. I wasn’t even fully aware of what was going on, still drugged up with barely any sensation in my lower body.

I couldn’t get up after the surgery. Of course not, I just had a major abdominal surgery. This was frustrating. But I didn’t let this restriction stop me from enjoying my little one. I cuddled her and cuddled her some more. About 12 hours after the surgery, the nurse encouraged me to get out of bed and walk a little. I had to do this to avoid clotting. So, I walked. I felt fine. The next 12 hours, I was able to take a shower, eat solid food, and walk to the washroom on my own. This didn’t feel so bad. Recovery was going pretty well at this point. I was putting a lot of my attention towards grasping breastfeeding. Amia was borderline jaundice; my milk supply was not fully in, so the nurses advised us to supplement a little. We did. There’s a reason why I call Amia our little warrior; through drinking my breast milk and the formula, she gained enough weight and didn’t get jaundice. I was doing well. Baby was doing well. So, we got discharged two days later. We could’ve stayed an extra day, but by this point, Matt and I wanted to be in the comfort of our own home, so we left.

I always used to wonder about what it would be like bringing a baby home. Just think, you leave your house for the hospital as two people and arrive back home with a third little one. It was a heartwarming feeling bringing Amia home for the first time. Actually, grateful is how I felt. Grateful that everything went fine and we both left the hospital healthy.

Now the reality. Like any new baby, they’re demanding. The days and nights are mixed up. They just want to be swaddled and held. They need to be fed around the clock. This is the norm and exactly what I was expecting. What I wasn’t expecting was the post pain from my surgery. No one told me that with all the pain medication in the world (I was given Morphine when discharged from the hospital) that it would still hurt. I think it was the third or fourth night home and my parents came over. As soon as my mom hugged me, I cried. I cried because I was in excruciating pain. Matt had to walk me to my bed. That’s where I stayed most of the time. My bed. So where did baby sleep? Our bed. We started co-sleeping because it was the most convenient for us. I was still trying to get a hold on breastfeeding. The goal was to get Amia back up to her birth weight. She was (and always will be) my number one priority and my little warrior was doing great.

About a week post-surgery, I started feeling a little off. I was eating right. I was resting. But for some reason, I didn’t feel right. I started getting uncontrollable body shakes and the sweats. I thought it was just my hormones balancing themselves out. But the pain at my incision started feeling worst. Walking was painful. I went to my family doctor on Thursday, October 29th. My dad drove me to the doctor’s and I remember sitting with him in the waiting room holding back my tears. I was scared but I was trying to be strong. My doctor prescribed me antibiotics because she suspected that my incision was infected. I was scheduled to go for an ultrasound the following day. I never made it. At around 2 AM on Friday morning, we were up feeding Amia. I handed her off to Matt to burp her. I noticed a strange smell. I brushed it off thinking it was Amia’s diaper until I looked down and realized my incision was oozing of a brown/yellow liquid. I’m being too conservative – my incision was gushing. I immediately got up and stormed to the bathroom. I panicked. Matt put Amia down. She was whaling. I was crying. Absolute panic. Matt brought over towels to cover the incision. We called the hospital and were told to go in. We arrived at the hospital at 3 AM and immediately were admitted. The infection caused my incision to open due to a build up of abscess fluid. That smell. I cannot forget the horrible smell that was draining. Once again, my arms were being poked around by the nurses to hook up the IV, to take blood, and to inject me with pain killers. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and scared. Because my wound had opened, the doctor could not just re-stitch it and send me off home. The wound needed to heal from the inside out. What? So, off I went being wheeled through the hospital halls in a stretcher back to the birthing unit. I was initially put back on the birthing floor so that Amia and Matt could stay with me, but because there was an influx of women giving birth, I had to be moved to the general surgical ward. Great. During the day, Matt would visit with Amia. But we didn’t keep her at the hospital for long. My parents would visit. My brother and his girlfriend would visit. Everyone was keeping me in good spirits. But I wanted none of it. I was fed up. I wanted my Amia. I wanted to hold her, cuddle her, feed her, show her I was there for her. I felt so disappointed with myself. It wasn’t fair, this wasn’t right. I was in pain both emotionally and physically. Every 12 hours the nurse would come and pack my wound. This basically meant that pieces of sterile gauze were literally inserted into my wound so that the outside would not heal before the inside. I wish this torturous pain on no one. It was difficult to stay positive. After four courses of antibiotics, numerous trips to the doctor’s, and with a few bumps along the way (the infection came back a couple of times), we made it. My wound is finally closed. Still healing. But closed.

Fast-forward to today. I think through this entire process, I could earn a medical certification. I don’t mean to sound egotistical but I’ve researched and asked a lot of questions to try and understand what happened. To understand what went wrong. The past three months have not been easy. Not for myself. Not for Matt. Not for Amia. Not for my family. After I was discharged from the hospital the second time it felt like we were starting back from square one. We had to try and re-establish ourselves. I was determined to still breastfeed. While I was away from Amia in the hospital, I would wake up every four hours to pump in order to maintain my milk supply. I’m not exaggerating when I say it felt like we were going through hell. A nurse would come in everyday to the house to pack my wound. I dreaded it every single time. I couldn’t bend. I couldn’t lift. I couldn’t shower. I felt dirty. Emotionally, I was a wreck not just because of my hormones, but because I was deeply suffering. No one warns you about the post-partum emotions (on a side note, I’d like to create some awareness regarding post-partum recovery). I felt helpless and useless. I would cry inconsolably to Matt. Partially because I was in pain but also because I felt like I had failed. Failed as an individual and as a mother. From someone who was independent to now having to depend on people to help me with the most simple of things was frustrating. I have learned to appreciate the littlest of things like taking a warm shower to the bigger things like seeing Pa hold down the fort. Truthfully speaking, Matt kept me going. He saw me at my worst and didn’t let me fall. He picked me up when I felt the most shattered. I was drained emotionally, mentally, and physically but he kept pushing me to be strong and reminded me to stay positive. I was ready to give-up breastfeeding, but he didn’t let me because he knew it was important to me. Because out of everything that I couldn’t do like lift my daughter or get up to change her diaper, I could feed her. Breastfeeding was our time together. As much as I was frustrated (I still get this way) with the whole breastfeeding concept, there was a small part of me that enjoyed it because I could do it without anyone helping me. So Pa, thank you. Your presence and love helped me get through this difficult phase and without you it would not have been possible. You are my true soulmate.

For my first post, I think I’ve said enough so I’m going to wrap this up. A gentle disclaimer: I didn’t sit down to write this post to seek attention or words of empathy. . Maybe somewhere, someone is struggling with a similar experience OR dealing with a situation where they feel like there is no end. Patience. My patience was truly tested through this ordeal. I have learned that with time and lots of patience there is light at the end of the tunnel. I have also learned the value of family and friends. During tough times you truly realize who steps up and shows up. I have learned who my support system is and that their love and concern has also helped me heal. Amia is growing beautifully. We have our moments of frustration but we get through it. I love her. Matt loves her. And she is loved by so many. Like I said before, I intend on writing more and my inspiration to write is my little warrior. Whether it be about Ma-hood or other aspects that interest me, I will start sharing my thoughts, so stay tuned. Until then, as I sign off, I leave you all with one small task: give your mother’s a big hug the next time you seem them. They do a lot for us. I get it now, Mom and I love you.

-Ma